NRL 2022: World Cup, Australia Jillaroos, Final, Kiwi Ferns, Kezie Apps, Indigenous, Weaving, Jillaroos Make Cultural Gifts For Opponents

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Jillaroos players learned traditional Aboriginal basket weaving to create gifts to give away to opposing teams ahead of World Cup matches.

Ali Brigginshaw, Sam Bremner and Tallisha Harden handed the framed weaves to their rival captains in the pre-match draw, and Kezie Apps will do the same in the final against the Kiwi Ferns.

“We did a lot of cultural awareness work in our camp about First Nations people, and weaving was something they did, so we were taught how to do it,” Apps said.



Ali Brigginshaw presents Kiwi Ferns captain Krystal Rota with a cultural gift ahead of last week’s game
©Getty Images


“It’s a skill we’ve become addicted to and it’s also good for a bit of mindfulness, so when we’ve had some time after practice, or just back in our rooms, we start to weave.

“We used this as a gift to give to the captains of the other countries we play against.”

Australian players were introduced to weaving at a pre-World Cup camp on the Gold Coast and continued the practice in England.


Tallisha Harden gives French captain Alice Varela her cultural gift

Tallisha Harden gives French captain Alice Varela her cultural gift
©Getty Images


The team’s seven Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander players – Shaylee Bent, Jaime Chapman, Tahlia Fuimaono, Harden, Caitlan Johnston, Keilee Joseph and Olivia Kernick – also taught the Aboriginal language to their teammates.

“It was just about how to say thank you, how to say hi or hello and how to introduce yourself,” Jillaroos assistant coach Jess Skinner said.

“They really embraced that too, and we shared that throughout our community visits.”

Apps said: “We say it to each other and we also say it when we’re out. We’ll say, ‘Yaama, hi’, and people ask, ‘what’s this about? Then we can explain it and start a conversation around it.”

The emphasis on Indigenous culture stems from a determination by Jillaroos coach Brad Donald that the players understand that they represent all of Australia, including First Nations people.


Kezie Apps and Emma Tonegato Help Each Other Weave

Kezie Apps and Emma Tonegato Help Each Other Weave


Skinner showed the players different weaving techniques and although some like Johnston, who works with Aboriginal students in his role as a teaching aide, had previous experience, most had never done it before.

“We did a connector piece about the Jillaroos — who we are and who we stand for — and in previous years we’ve done cultural giveaways, so we felt we’d like to involve the girls in that,” Skinner said.

“That’s where the concept of weaving came in, so I taught the girls how to weave and make the bottom of the baskets, which we turned into a work of art which we then donated to the opposition .

“They’ve really embraced it and they’re really proud of it. I think when we first framed him for our first-round game, they saw it all come together and they felt like they played a part in it.

“It helped the girls connect more to Australia and another side of Australia that they had never been exposed to before.”


Sam Bremner receives advice from Caitlan Johnston

Sam Bremner receives advice from Caitlan Johnston


For most of their World Cup campaign, the Jillaroos have been based in York, which is one of England’s most historic cities, but Johnston said it was good for the players to realize that the native culture was much older.

“It’s quite special, and I think for them it’s a bit of knowledge of our Australian culture and heritage, like how our people survived.” Johnson said.

“They made baskets to carry food, they also weaved canoes and beds, so there’s loads of history and knowledge behind it all.

“For the First Nations people of Australia, this is something that is really rich and important to us.”

Full-back Emma Tonegato said she now wants to learn more about Aboriginal culture and also feels basket weaving has been a good team-building exercise.

“I think especially during that first week at camp, everyone was helping each other out and going to the staff and asking for help, so it was really a team thing and bought everyone together. “, said Tonegato.

“To be able to give as a gift something that is so historic for Australia and means so much is something that I really thought was beautiful. I really enjoyed doing all the weaving and learning all about it.

“They’re not all perfect, but I think it shows how authentic it is and the effort we’ve put in.”

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